In 2003, MySpace came along and forever changed how bands connected with fans and new listeners. Though the days of MySpace are long gone, a strong social media presence is now more important than ever if you’re looking to make it big. Social media can be a local band’s best friend or worst enemy. Now of course, exactly how vital an online presence is strongly depends on your style, sound, and audience. But if you’re unsure of how to traverse the complex world of social media for bands, we here at MMC came up with a few simple guidelines…
1. DO NOT BUY FAKE FOLLOWERS
All your favorite bands have thousands upon thousands of followers across social media. It would only make sense that the goal would be to replicate that. Follower count seems like a pretty obvious testament to how popular a band is. So how do you gain a lot of followers? Well you could go the old fashioned way and release good music online, consistently play shows, properly advertise yourselves to new listeners, and let your follower base grow organically over time.
You know, like a chump.
Could there be an easier option? Perhaps you’ve heard of services that promise you 1000+ followers instantly. There are apps that mass follow 1000 people for you in hope that, out of courtesy, they follow you back. You could even pay for bot accounts that, while not actually real people, will still add to your follower count making your profile seem all the more impressive. Fork over a few bucks and just like that you have a dedicated fanbase bigger than any other band in your scene. Sounds too good too be true, right?
That’s because it is. Don’t do this.
Oddly enough stuff like this tends to have the opposite effect. Sure, a profile boasting 20,000+ followers seems impressive, but that illusion is quickly shattered when people look closer at your profile and notice that, of that 20,000, only a handful of people ever actually interact with your page. Methods like that don’t really fool anyone, especially agents and label representatives who you’re more than likely trying to attract by doing this. Think of it as quality over quantity. It’s a lot more impressive to amass a few hundred dedicated followers than a few thousand ghosts.
I have a lot of experience using services like these and very rarely is it actually worth the time and money put into it. Pretty much all of the “get 1000 followers now” services are scams, mass following apps are better suited for growing businesses rather than bands, and straight up buying fake followers/views/likes only makes you look shallow as hell. You can’t cheat your way to the top. If you have good content and know how to market yourselves, eventually success will come.
2. MAKE YOUR MUSIC EASY TO FIND
For bands, one of the nicest things about MySpace back in the day was being able to have your music, your videos, your artwork, everything totally customizable, and right on your profile. It was almost too easy. You had a large audience to share your music with, and you could give them essentially a whole press kit about your band, all without ever having to click away from the site. Nowadays the most popular social networks are Facebook and Twitter, and while both sites let artists upload photos and video, you have to go elsewhere to stream your music. So what service should you use for your music?
For many local bands, the gold standard is Bandcamp. Bandcamp is a great service for bands, indie labels, or even just people looking for new music. It’s totally free (though a paid version is available,) profiles take only minutes to set up, and you can customize your page to match whatever aesthetic you desire. Bandcamp is also what one of the few services where you can put your own price on your music, including free and donation based options. You link the page up to your PayPal account and sales go right to you. (If you use the free version, Bandcamp does takes a small percentage.)
But when you only put your music on one site, you’re missing out on many other audiences. You want to make it as convenient as possible for people to get your music and listen to it, so you’re gonna want your music on as many other sites and services as possible. Now setting all that up is time consuming and extremely expensive, fortunately there’s a site that streamlines that entire process and won’t break the bank. It’s called DistroKid. For only twenty dollars a year you can upload as much music as your heart desires and DistroKid distributes it to over a hundred different music services, including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Apple Music, and many more. The best part is that DistroKid doesn’t take any cut of the money made. This may be a bit overkill for smaller bands but if you find yourselves growing and there’s a demand for your music in more places, it’s a fantastic service. There is also a version for multiple artists which is a great option for independent labels.
After you have your music online, put a link to your music in the most obvious place you can on your profile (usually in a bio.) Just make sure people can easily click to your music no matter what platform they find you on. Also make your all your social media links to each other so people can follow you on multiple networks. Seems like a pretty obvious step but you’d be surprised by how many bands don’t take advantage of this.
3. IF YOU TWEET AT ME THREE TIMES A DAY TO CHECK OUT YOUR BAND, I WILL EGG YOUR HOUSE
Like I said earlier, the best way to build a following online is have good content and market yourselves correctly. How do you market yourself correctly? The key to this one is to effectively advertise your band, while not being super annoying about it. Doing things like commenting on YouTube videos asking people to check out your band, or harassing friends and family on Facebook, or desperately tweeting out to anyone who even breathes on your profile probably won’t get you very far and if anything, will just make you look pathetic.
Self-promotion is very challenging because it’s all about having a light touch, keeping things genuine and conversational while not straying too far away from the topic at hand. It’s a lot like working in retail, associates are always encouraged to be friendly and engage with the customer because nobody likes talking to a salesman. Because of this I usually don’t advise doing too much self-promotion unless you are really good at it.
A solid way to market yourself online has a lot to do with simply maintaining your online image. Post as much as possible and keep what audience you do have engaged, have consistent and professional graphics and themes to all your profiles, be entertaining and fun. If you want to go on the offense, a good way to get a lot of online exposure is to network with other bands. In underground music, networking is your greatest weapon, you can never have too many friends. Find bands similar to yours and befriend them, see if you can help promote each other. If you want to take it a step further, record a split EP with another band of your size from a different region, this way both bands get exposure somewhere they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Do that with enough different bands and you can grow your audience exponentially across the world, in a decent amount of time too.
BONUS TIP: HAVE GOOD MUSIC
The major focus of this article is having a strong presence online for your band which is incredibly important in this day and age. That being said I don’t wanna sign off without stressing that having really solid music is still the most important thing. If you apply all these tips while having nothing worth listening to, you aren’t gonna get anywhere any time soon. Make the best possible jams you can make, put your heart and soul into it, something you are proud of and passionate about, and then worry about your image.